The Development of Intersectional Social Prototypes

Ryan F. Lei, Rachel A. Leshin, Marjorie Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Race and gender information overlap to shape adults’ representations of social categories. This overlap may contribute to the psychological “invisibility” of people whose race and gender identities are perceived to have conflicting stereotypes. The present research (N = 249) examined when race begins to bias representations of gender across development. Children and adults engaged in a speeded task in which they categorized photographs of faces of women and men from three racial categories: Asian, Black, and White (four photographs per gender and racial group). In Study 1, participants were slower to categorize photographs of Black women as women than photographs of White and Asian women as women and Black men as men. They also were more likely to miscategorize photographs of Black women as men and less likely to stereotype Black women as feminine. Study 2 replicated these findings and provided evidence of a developmental shift in categorization speed. An omnibus analysis provided a high-powered test of this developmental hypothesis, revealing that target race begins biasing children’s gender categorization around age 5. Implications for the development of social-category representation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-926
Number of pages16
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • development
  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • open data
  • open materials
  • preregistered
  • prototypes
  • race
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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